Controversial issues Rev Fall 2005 by QT6Fh1nm


									Analyzing Controversial Issues
                                      Sociology 220
                                   Prof. Pamela Oliver
Issues for project 1, debate
• Is it appropriate to use race or ethnic profiling in policing and security enforcement?
• Should the University make special efforts to recruit and retain students who are
   ethnic/racial minorities?
• Should U.S. immigration law be changed to allow more workers from Mexico?
• Should English be the only language of instruction in U.S. public schools?
• We are looking for opinionated or “biased” sources, people who really advocate each side
• We want opinions from BOTH sides
    – No “straw men” (Not what the opposition says a group thinks, but what they
      themselves say)
    – You are the judge or analyst weighing both sides fairly, NOT the lawyer advocating
      for one side
• You want to sort your sources into “sides” and notice what kinds of claims are being
   made on each side
• Library Lecture Sept 20 (Tuesday) HERE
Academic honesty
• No plagiarism. For how to avoid see:
• References & citations must be honest, not “faked”
• The penalty for academic dishonesty will range from F on the paper to F in the class
   (depending on severity) PLUS a letter to the Dean’s office describing the offense
• You will submit papers electronically, they will be checked through,
   plagiarism detection software
• Apologies to those of you who would not cheat, plus assurance that honesty will not be
Major Dimensions of analysis
• Interests: who stands to gain/lose
• Factual claims: assertions about reality
• Value claims: assertions about justice or morality
• Rhetoric & Discourse: how language is used to persuade, to position the issue with
     respect to other issues or principles
Plan for class
• Use Indian mascots & University funding as example issues for concepts
• Do concepts, first with University funding as example, then discussion with mascots as
• ~20-30 minutes with University funding as example
• ~ 10 minutes of general discussion of mascots to get going
• ~30 minutes with mascots as example of concepts
• What people stand to gain or lose from different policies
    – Money
    – Jobs
    – Political Power
    – Prestige, sense of superiority
    – Cultural comfort: your sense of belonging or being right is not challenged
• People may disguise their interests under claims of general principles
    – This may be entirely unconscious
Social Location & Interests
• People in common social locations have common or group interests
    – Social location = place in society
• Policies ALWAYS affect people differently, depending upon their social location
• People often think that what is good for them is good for everyone, often genuinely
   unaware of others’ interests
• There is generally no policy that is “good for everyone.” It is a matter of balancing
   interests & principles.
Interest groups in issue of whether Wisconsin should provide more GPR (general program
revenue) for UW
• UW students & their families
    – Wealthier families who could pay more & are getting a bargain compared to other
    – Lower income families who cannot afford higher tuition, cannot attend
• Wisconsin taxpayers who don’t send kids to UW
• Faculty & staff of UW
• ? Politicians seeking to “score points”
• Long-term economic health of state: need more college grads?
• College grads in a better job position if they have less competition (fewer others are
   college grads)
Factual Claims
• What people say “the facts” are
• Most times, the different sides disagree about facts
• People may make factual claims about which the evidence is non-existent, in dispute, or
• Important to look for factual claims & the evidence supporting them
Factual claims about UW funding
• Whether GPR has gone up or down (whether you index for inflation)
• What the money is being used for (“waste” or “bureaucracy” or “efficiency”)
• Whether higher tuition is cause of increase in economic standing of UW students
• How Wisconsin tax burden is distributed
Value Claims
• Assertions about core principles of justice, fairness, equality, morality
• Some people believe as a value that only individual interests matter, but most people
   adhere to other more general values
• Both sides generally advocate positive values
• The sides may invoke different values or weigh them differently, or may agree on values
   but disagree on how to accomplish them
Value claims (some) in UW funding
• College education should be available to all VS college education is a luxury that should
   be for those who can afford it
• Taxes should be as low as possible VS taxes should be high enough to pay for social needs
• Professors should not earn so much relative to ordinary working people
Rhetoric - Discourse
• The words that are used, how the issue is compared to others
• The two sides usually use different language, talk about the issue in different ways
• Non-ethnic example: pro-life vs pro-choice. Different ways of framing what abortion is
• Those advocating points of view typically choose their language & framing purposefully
   to make a point (but sometimes are unconscious of this)
• Rhetoric may be grounded in larger religious, political or philosophical belief systems
Rhetoric – Discourse University Funding
• “Waste,” “administrative overhead,” “mismanagement”
• Professors who don’t teach, uncaring, inaccessible to students
• Great university
• Economic value of university
• ??
Interest groups in Indian mascots
Interest groups in Indian mascots
• American Indians
• Professional sports teams
• College sports teams
• High school sports teams
• Others promoting racial sensitivity
• Others opposing “special recognition” of minorities or who value White dominance
American Indians interests
• Insulted
• Lowers self-esteem of children, hard to take pride in your ethnicity
Sports team interests
Sports team interests
• Money
• Symbolic identification with the icon; don’t want to give it up
• Deeper interests about not being challenged in sense of entitlement: why should I have to
Factual claims about mascots
Factual claims about mascots
• Financial costs of changing
   – Direct
   – Indirect through alumni/customer anger
• Whether most AmInds object
• Whether they are respectful
• History & its effects
• Mascots are important to the Whites who use them
• Claims about actual history of terms (I.e. original meaning of “redskin” or “warrior”)
Value claims for mascots
Value claims for mascots
• Symbols that disparage others should not be used
• Targets of symbols should decide whether something is disparaging
• Minorities are too oversensitive
• The issue is trivial, no big deal
Rhetoric, discourse
Rhetoric, discourse
• “Fighting whites”
• Examples of other groups (both sides)
   – Fighting Irish, Saxons, Spartans
   – Atlanta Negroes, Fighting Bishops (pope as mascot)
   – Parallels to Black icons (mammy, lantern boy)
• Oversensitive, trivial, respectful
NOTE: Plan is to add to the mascot notes in class from student discussions.

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